Going Back to College: Getting
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Once you have selected schools you are interested in,
compare them using the following guidelines (we have
provided a College
the ranking/reputation of the college program. Be
certain that the school is fully accredited, and if
seeking federal student aid to help pay for your education,
that the school
participates in the Title IV student aid program.
If interested in graduate school or an advanced degree,
make sure the program is fully transferable and meets
all requirements. To find information on the school's
ranking and academic reputation, refer to college
guides from the Princeton
News, and Kiplinger.
What kind of financial aid
is available, and if there are there specific scholarships
targeted toward adult students. Are the college's
tuition and expenses affordable? Is there a flexible payment or installment plan available?
- Does the college accept transfer
credits? How many? Does it provide options
for receiving college credit by examination, prior
learning or work or life experience credit? To learn more about these options, see How to Accelerate Your Degree Plan.
- Courses are presented at acceptable times and formats.
Are night and weekend courses available? How about
distance learning (via the Internet, broadcast television,
or correspondence courses)?
- Does the school offer accelerated courses or programs? Accelerated courses can cover a full semester's instruction in six or eight week formats. These programs are learning intense, but help to quickly attain college credit for degree completion.
- Campus office and academic advising schedules accommodate
adult students. Make sure library, computer services,
and academic tutoring are
available at accessible times and professors are available after class hours.
- The college offers community and support for adult
students. Ask the percentage of nontraditional student enrollment and if there are any social groups or services available. Ask if child care programs are offered if needed.
(See also Ten
Questions to Ask Before Choosing a College or University
a Distance Learning Program.)
Complete any Testing and Admissions and Financial
Once you identify schools offering programs you are
interested in, visit their Web site or contact the admissions
office for a course catalog and admissions application.
Request a financial aid application from the financial
aid office. Complete all the necessary testing and admissions
and financial aid applications (including the FAFSA
Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and send
an offical copy of your prior transcripts to the school.
(A transcript is a record of previous academic work.
To request a copy, contact the high school or previous
college(s) attended and request that an official copy
be sent to the admissions office of the new college
or university.) If you need your GED
(General Educational Development) transcript, the
American Council on Education offers assistance. (For
information on getting your G.E.D. or high school diploma,
Education/G.E.D./High School Diploma.)
Adult students usually aren't required to take admissions
tests (i.e., the SAT
Standardized Admissions Test or ACT
American College Test), although they do need to take
graduate admission tests such as the GRE
Graduate Record Examination or GMAT
Graduate Management Admission Test if attending graduate
school. Many colleges offer a placement test instead
of admission test scores for older students, and don't
consider high school performance or outdated test scores,
especially with transfer students from community colleges.
(For frequently asked questions about the ACT and SAT,
including old test scores, see the
ACT and SAT
Web sites.) For help in preparing for admissions or
other educational testing, see Educational
Testing Services and the Princeton
Review. Information on college credit options (i.e.
life experience credit and the CLEP
(College Level Examination Program), is referenced in
and College Credit Options.